TV Review: ‘Picard’ and Patrick Stewart Deliver a Satisfying Continuation For His Iconic Character

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Picard

One of the longest-running television franchises, “Star Trek” became known for its expansive storytelling and genre foundation. Many connected with the series, and with more than fifty years of content, it remains an iconic property. With eight television series and dozen films, “Star Trek” will return to one of its most iconic characters. “Picard” follows the Patrick Stewart character almost two decades after his last appearance. Thanks to Stewart, “Picard” offers an exciting new story, both for the character and the franchise.

Picard

“Picard” picks up with the titular character eighteen years after “Star Trek: Nemesis,” the 2002 film. Picard still mourns the death of Data (Brent Spiner) and his failure to save the planet Romulus. He now lives on a vineyard, retired from Star Fleet and away from the world. When a young woman visits him, he quickly becomes emotionally and mentally engaged in a new mystery. The questions raised puts Picard on a path to places unknown.

Stewart steps back into the character that launched him into superstardom. Bringing every bit the gravitas of his stage presence, he puts his emotions on his sleeve to deliver special moments. The veteran actor proves the “Picard” reboot has a reason to exist. Stewart’s face remains as expressive as ever. Thanks to some extreme close-ups, he utilizes this gift to sell an emotional connection. Stewart shines with joy, sadness, and steps into the challenge of reviving an icon. His performance alone makes “Picard” must-watch sci-fi.

Picard

“Picard” stands on its own, and does not require extensive knowledge of the “Star Trek” universe. That serves it well, although some knowledge of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” will certainly enhance the experience. Most of the mystery surrounds legacy characters, including Data and Picard. Newcomers to the franchise include Michelle Hurd and Alison Pill. Hurd immediately makes her presence felt and “Picard” takes a step up when she arrives. Her history with the titular character clears up the backstory and helps to fill in the blanks. Another key actress to watch will be Isa Briones, who gets plenty of standout moments in the first few episodes. The supporting cast on “Picard” has plenty of promise to make “Picard” another great “Star Trek” ensemble.

The technical aspects of “Picard” rise to the occasion. While the series does not world jump as much as previous “Star Trek” series, it remains a globe trotter. The visuals of a vista in France and a trailer in the desert create the environmental changes you’d expect from the franchise. Even more impressive is how it updates technology from previous incantations. This version of “Star Trek” takes our modern appliances, from tablets to vaping, and updates them for this universe. “Star Trek” has often been seen as an optimistic look at how technology can advance, and “Picard” carries that baton.

Picard

Ultimately, the series lays the narrative groundwork to fill in the blanks. New and old characters blend to create exciting and emotional arcs. The future of “Picard” looks bright, both as a nostalgia vehicle and a step forward. Where the series chooses to take its diverse characters will determine the success of the latest “Star Trek” voyage.

Are you going to watch “Picard?” Let us know in the comments below.

Stream “Picard” on CBS All-Access. “Picard” premieres Jan. 23, 2020.

GRADE: (★)